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Press Release

U.S. Court Of Appeals For The Third Circuit Denies Former Lackawanna County Commissioner’s Latest Appeal

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied former Lackawanna County Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro’s latest appeal regarding his 2011 conviction on multiple public corruption charges.  Specifically, the Court of Appeals denied Cordaro’s request for a Certificate of Appealability of U.S District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo’s August 18, 2015, denial of Cordaro’s motion for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The Appellate Court also denied Cordaro’s motion for release from custody.

In it’s Order denying Cordaro’s appeal, the Appellate Court stated:

The application for a Certificate of Appealability is denied because [Mr. Cordaro] has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a Constitutional right.  For the reasons given by the District Court, [Mr. Cordaro] has not shown that jurists of reason would debate the denial of his claims.  In particular, jurists of reason would not debate whether [Mr. Cordaro] failed to establish prejudice for any of his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Cordaro was convicted in 2011, along with former Lackawanna County Commissioner Anthony Munchak, on multiple charges including racketeering and other public corruption offenses relating to the Commissioner’s demands for payments and other benefits from individuals and entities doing business with Lackawanna County.  Cordaro was sentenced on January 30, 2012, to serve 132 months’ imprisonment and the Third Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence on May 31, 2013.

After the conviction and sentenced were affirmed, Cordaro filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence based on alleged ineffective assistance of his trial counsel.  A three-day hearing was held in January 2015 and the District Court denied the motion in August 2015.

Cordaro appealed that ruling and the decision today by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s August 2015 ruling.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.  At trial, the government was represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Lorna N. Graham, William S. Houser and Bruce Brandler.

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Updated April 11, 2016

Public Corruption